It’s no secret Croatia is home to some beautiful nature, pristine beaches, transparent blue sea and some lovely old towns. With more than 1,000 islands, hundreds of kilometres long coast and many amazing cities, it could be hard to choose the best places to visit in Croatia. Being a local myself, I have visited many of them. And decided to create this list with some of the best places to visit in Croatia.
Best places to visit in Croatia
To make a choice of the best place to visit in Croatia easier for you, I break them down into categories depending on what you’re looking for during your trip.
Best places to visit in Croatia for nature
With a diverse nature spanning from the high mountains, large forests, to the Mediterranean coast, Croatia is a heaven for the nature lovers. Since the country is rather small, the best part is you can easily enjoy all of those different sceneries within the same day.
Filled with forests, meadows and high mountains, this ‘Green Heart of Croatia’, resembles Austria quite a lot. You can go hiking in Gorski kotar, walk through the forest or go picking some forest fruit. It’s located between Zagreb and the Croatia coast, so you can make it a few days stop on your way towards some of the more popular destinations such as Split or Dubrovnik.
Not to be missed: Climbing the Risnjak Mountain
How to get there: Gorski kotar is well connected by the A 3 highway, so you can easily reach it from Zagreb, Istria, Rijeka or other coastal towns.
Velebit is the highest mountain in Croatia and one of its national parks. It’s home to some wild animals such as bear, wolf or lynx.
You can spend some time there on a day trip, or explore it for a few days. Just remember to bring proper hiking equipment with you.
Not to be missed: Kutarevo bear’s shelter
How to get there: Velebit is a big mountain, so you can approach it from a few directions. However, the A 1 highway will get you close to it. And then, you can take a local road depending on which part would you like to visit.
Often overlooked by the tourists, this lovely region of Croatia should find a place at your Croatia bucket list if you want to explore some of its hidden gems. Home to many castles, rural countryside, lovely green hills and picturesque villages, it’s one of the best places to visit in Croatia.
Not to be missed: Veliki Tabor Castle
How to get there: Hrvatsko zagorje is located in the very north of Croatia. If you’re entering the country at Macelj border crossing, you’ll get there immediately. If you’ll visit from Zagreb, follow the A 2 highway and exit close to the place you’d like to visit.
Best places to visit in Croatia for the beach holiday
Majority of people visiting Croatia are looking for a great beach holiday. Well, I hear you asking, so where are the best places to visit in Croatia for the beach holiday?
I would advise you here to avoid the larger cities and look for smaller villages and some of the Croatian islands.
TIP: There are many hidden local beaches in Croatia only locals know about. Ask your host or at a hotel for recommendations for some of those local gems.
The small island of Vis is the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland. It’s also where the Hollywood movie ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ was filmed. A place where you’ll find some fantastic nature, deep blue sea, peace and quiet, is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Croatia.
Not to be missed: Komiža
How to get there: On a ferry from Split
Although the most densely populated Croatian island, Ugljan is home to some fantastic beaches. The whole island is home to beautiful nature, and the locals are mostly growing olives, figs and grapes. There are many small villages on the island, and each one of them will be a lovely destination for your holiday in Croatia.
Not to be missed: Some of the hidden small beaches
How to get there: On a ferry from Zadar
Hvar is one of my favourite places in Croatia and a location where you’ll find some of the most fantastic nature on the Adriatic coast. It was inhabited since pre-historic time. Often called the Island of Lavender, you’ll find there many beautiful lavender fields, next to the more common olives, vineyards and pine forests.
TIP: A short boat ride from Hvar are Paklinski Islands. They are one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited on the Croatian coast. And I definitely recommend a day trip there during your visit to Hvar.
Not to be missed: Paklinski Islands
How to get there: On a ferry from Split
Brijuni Islands are a place where the time stands still and where you’ll find some of the most amazing beaches in Croatia. The archipelago is one of Croatia’s national parks, and you can only visit it on one of the organised trips or with your own boat.
That’s why there are not many people around, and you’ll have a beach mostly to yourself. The sea there is transparent blue. And the whole combination of islands, Roman ruins and some fantastic nature makes Brijuni Islands so magical.
Not to be missed: A train ride around the main island
How to get there: On an organised trip (you can book it at the Tourism Office at Fažana).
Best places to visit in Croatia for the history lovers
Dubrovnik is the most popular place in Croatia and the one that comes to everyone’s mind when thinking about Croatia. And there is a big reason for it. Once you walk into the old town of Dubrovnik, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into history. From its Medieval city walls, numerous old buildings, churches and palaces, Dubrovnik is a treat for all history buffs.
Not to be missed: Walking around Dubrovnik City Walls
How to get there: Dubrovnik has an airport, but it’s also well connected with other places in Croatia by the A 1 highway.
The second-largest city in Croatia is a place filled with some fantastic history, as well. It was quite an important place during the Roman time because one of its emperors, Diocletian, has built his palace there.
Diocletian Palace makes a huge part of the city centre today, and it’s so interesting because people actually live in it. The old Diocletian’s mausoleum is used as the Split’s cathedral today. And the old basements as a place for numerous small shops (and filming some famous scenes from the ‘Game of Thrones’).
It’s one of the best places to visit in Croatia for anyone in love with Roman history.
How to get there: Split has its airport, but it’s also well connected with other places in Croatia by the A 1 highway.
Another Croatian town that had an important role during the time of the Roman Empire is Zadar. It’s the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian town. You can feel its past at its Roman Forum and at a near-by Archaeological Museum.
One of the most important Medieval buildings in Croatia, St. Donatus Church from the 9th century, is located there, as well.
Not to be missed: Walk around the Roman Forum
How to get there: Zadar has its airport, but it’s also well connected with other places in Croatia by the A 1 highway.
The capital of Croatia is definitely a city to be put on your list of interesting historical places to visit in Croatia. Exploring its old Medieval ‘Upper Town’, the neo-Gothic cathedral and the historicistic buildings of the ‘Lower Town’ is a lovely way to dive into Zagreb’s history.
Many historical tours are organised daily in the Croatian capital. So for the full experience, be sure to join some of them.
Not to be missed: Zagreb’s ‘Upper Town’, in Croatian called Gradec or Grič
How to get there: Many international flights are arriving daily at Zagreb Airport. However, being the capital of Croatia, it’s well connected with the rest of the country, too.
Istria is my favourite region in Croatia and a place where I love spending my summer holidays. From the coastal towns such as Rovinj, Pula or Poreč, to some old villages built on the top of the hills at the peninsula’s inland (by legend built by the giants), there is just so much to see there.
Pula was a famous Roman town, and today it’s filled with some ancient buildings, such as the old amphitheatre and Roman Forum. While in Poreč, be sure to visit Euphrasian Basilica, a complex built in the 6th century, and today under the UNESCO’s protection.
Istria has such an interesting history and was under the influences of many of its neighbours, like Italy or Austria. All of which could still be felt in Istria today.
Not to be missed: Roman Amphiteatre in Pula
How to get there: There is an international airport in Pula. But, you can easily reach it from Zagreb by car, too.
Best places to visit in Croatia to avoid the crowds
Slavonia is a part of Croatia often overlooked not only by the tourists but by Croatians, as well. A ‘Golden Valley of Croatia’, however, is one of its hidden gems and absolutely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Croatia.
Filled with small picturesque villages, charming towns, Baroque churches and some nice wineries, Slavonia should definitely find a place on your Croatia bucket list if you’re looking for the best places to visit in Croatia to avoid the crowds.
Not to be missed: The town of Ilok
How to get there: By car, take the A 3 from Zagreb and exit it close to the places you’d like to visit in Slavonia.
Smaller Croatian islands
Did you know Croatia is home to around 1,000 islands? So, if you’re looking for some of the best places to visit in Croatia to enjoy peace and quiet, some of them could be a good choice.
You’ll find only a lighthouse on some of them. But, the best part is you can spend a night in it and have an island exclusively for yourself. How cool would that be?
Not to be missed: Spending a night at a lighthouse
How to get there: You’ll often need a taxi boat to take you to some of those isolated islands.
Croatia is home to so many gorgeous sights, and it could often be hard to find the best places to visit in Croatia. However, I hope this guide is going to make your choice at least a bit easier.
What’s your favourite place in Croatia? Share it with me in the comments below.
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